Chinese Military Character.
have long had the reputation of being the greatest cowards in the world.-- Whether this was ever true of any but the inhabitants of certain localities, such as Shanghai
, is more than problematical.
The obstinacy and destructiveness with which they carry on wars among themselves would seem to indicate as much pluck and stamina as any other people.
They quailed at first before the superior discipline and armaments of the "outside barbarians;" but it would seem from recent events that they have learned to face even the rifled cannon and scientific soldiership of more civilized nations.
Their victory over the British squadron at the Pel-Ho for is in 1859, was an achievement of which the most warlike of the Western
nations might have been proud, and though the positions they then so successfully defended have just been retaken by the allies, it has been at a cost of life to the assailants which demonstrates that the Chinese have become apt pupils in "the manly art of self-defence."The London Times
grows savagely and dolefully over the dearly purchased victory. "That there should have been a hard fight of three hours," says the Times,
"is not astonishing, even with the overwhelming force and the terrible warlike engines with which the commanders of the European
forces were supplied.
They may be reasonably supposed to have desired to acquire possession of the forts without cost of life to their own men, and to have made use of their arms of precision and rifled cannon, keeping their own men safe, and demonstrating to the enemy how useless farther resistance must be. But that the allies should have, lost so many men in killed and wounded in this business, does certainly excite our astonishment,
and we shall wait with anxiety the arrival of our correspondent's account of the affair, which we hope may show that such an expenditure of life has not been unnecessarily incurred."
inclines to the conclusion that if it be found necessary, in order to drive a Chinese force out of one of their ten thousand fortresses, the allies must incur such enormous cost and lose so many men, war in china has entirely changed its character,
and the allies must apply themselves to reason upon that unpleasant fact.
forts, quoth the Times,
were, to look at, as tremendous and impassable fortifications as could be built, yet the English
used to go in and batter them down, periodically, with three or four ships of war. In the narrow waters of the Canton river
, there were fortifications just as strong in guns and masonry as those which defeated the English
last year, and which have since been retaken at such cost of life; yet every now and then, when a difficulty arose, either an English or an American ship-of-war set the garrison scampering by a few shells.--"Now, it seems, all this is changed.
A fort in China is like a fort in Sebastopol,
and a Chinese enemy exhausts all the forms of European
The enemy stipulates for the horrors of war, and retires with colors flying and gongs and tom-toms tormenting the atmosphere.
It is plain, that as we continue these wars, we are either making them more difficult, or else we are breeding a race of Admirals
who make more of a difficulty in the matter."
If articles of peace, as is deemed probable, have followed the military operations of the allies, the Chinese military character has suffered no damage from the collision.
On the contrary, it is now demonstrated that the timidity formerly manifested by the Chinese towards European
soldiers, was the result of the inexperience and ignorance of military science, as practiced by these nations, and the inferiority in efficient weapons as well as discipline.
But they are apt pupils in the arts of war as well as of peace; and numbering a population of some three hundred millions, their military subjugation, if the allies ever attempt it, will prove no child's play.